’Jacket Cassady picks up hardware

Williamstown head girls cross country coach Larry Cassady, pictured here with the Class A West Virginia state championship hardware, was recently named the Mountain State’s girls coach of the year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

WILLIAMSTOWN — There’s little doubt things are more than going in the right direction when it comes to the cross country programs at Williamstown High School.

Yellowjacket head girls coach Larry Cassady, who helped guide WHS to the Class A state championship this past fall, was recently honored as the West Virginia girls U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s High School Coach of the Year.

Morgantown boys coach Mike Ryan won the other award, which was selected by a committee of experts from around the nation.

“I was a little surprised I even got the award,” stated Cassady, who noted he hasn’t received the trophy that comes with it as of yet. “If you look at the factors they used to award this, it was everything about the team — the way they performed and how they did at state and how they did individually and against ranked teams.

“I also think it was kind of ironic. Mike Taylor is the one who got ahold of Cliff Taylor to tell me I won and Mike was the coach of the Williamstown girls 20 years ago when they won their first (cross country) title. I thought that was kind of neat.”

The Little Kanawha Conference champs finished fifth overall in Class AA/A at the state meet, but had the best score en route to claiming the single-A crown.

Freshman Ella Hesson finished runner-up while senior teammate Kasey McNamara also cracked the top 10 to earn all-state honors. Also scoring for the Yellowjackets at the state meet were freshman Emilee Ellison, junior Carsen Hesson and ninth-grader Stella Flanagin.

“I believe the credit goes to the girls and the boys, who pushed the girls in practice,” added the coach. “The boys team would run with the girls and push them, especially if it was a speed workout.

“Coach (Michelle) Hesson and coach (Cliff) Taylor (deserve a lot of credit) and people might think I’m talking fluff, but we have an AD (WHS athletic director Jeff Givens) who supports this program and the community over here. Everybody wins on something like this.”

Also, the winners from each state are now in consideration for the association’s National High School Cross Country Coach of the Year award, which will be announced later this month.